Monterey Aquarium, CA - An Introduction

San Francisco, California

MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM Cannery Row Monterey, California (831) 648-4800 (831) 644-4810 fax email: store@mbayaq.org. Located on Cannery Row in Monterey, California (at about the half-way point on the coast of California), Monterey Bay Aquarium is a favorite spot for Californians as well as for visitors to the state. When it opened in 1984, the Monterey Bay Aquarium ushered in a new age of aquariums and became a model. Now, more than 100 galleries and exhibits explore the many habitats of Monterey Bay, with over 365,000 specimens representing 571 species of fishes, invertebrates, mammals, reptiles, birds and plants found in the Bay. What helps make this Aquarium so valuable is that you will be seeing plants and animals in their native habitats and in their natural communities rather than viewing a collection of exotics brought together and maintained artificially. Without sacrificing interest or beauty, this Aquarium involves you in the extreme diversity of one bay, its multitude of habitats, micro-climates and lifestyles. When you and your family go for a picnic along the Bay or eat at a restaurant overlooking the water, you will all have a new appreciation of where you are and what creatures are sharing the area. THE KELP FOREST This 3-story exhibit presents a diver's-eye view of a dynamic undersea community; a towering kelp forest of Macrocystis pyrifera, the California coastline's giant kelp. Sardines, leopard sharks and a host of other fishes weave among the fronds of kelp, which grows up to 8 inches per day out in the Bay! A surge machine and water jets hidden in the exhibit's rockwork walls maintain the constant water motion the kelp requires to absorb sufficient nutrients. SEA OTTERS ALONG THE ROCKY COAST The total population of California sea otters, now about 2,400 individuals, is slowly recovering after it was decimated by fur hunters in the 18th and 19th centuries. The 55,000-gallon sea otter exhibit gives visitors a close-up look at these playful and curious mammals above and below the surface, together with the marine plants, fishes and invertebrates that inhabit the otters' wild environment. The aquarium's resident sea otters were permanently separated from their mothers by heavy surf as young pups. All were rescued and raised by aquarium staff with the help of volunteers. Ongoing sea otter research conducted at the aquarium focus on efforts to improve the survival of this threatened species, and to perfect techniques for reintroduction of sea otters to the wild should mass rescues be needed in the aftermath of an oil spill or other environmental catastrophe. MONTEREY BAY HABITATS Large sharks, bat rays, salmon, halibut, striped bass and many other fishes roam this 90-foot-long, hourglass-shaped exhibit. Four habitats in the Bay have been re-created here: the deep reefs, the sandy sea floor, the shale reefs and the wharf. Bubble-shaped viewing windows offer an intriguing perspective on the deep reefs, while large acrylic windows provide a series of broad vistas into the exhibit. The hourglass shape provides large, constantly swimming sharks the long straight glide path they need. Actual 30-year-old wharf pilings from Monterey harbor anchor one end of the exhibit, while common murres - a species of seabird - paddle on the surface or dive and swim underwater. MARINE MAMMALS GALLERY From the public entrance, a parade of highly-detailed replicas of various species found in the Bay wends its way overhead into the Marine Mammals gallery. These models include a 43-foot gray whale complete with barnacles and her 22-foot calf. Orcas (killer whales), dolphins, porpoises and other marine mammals crowd the air above, while graphics and videos explain animal behavior and why the Bay is a haven for so many species. A new addition is a school of Pacific white-sided dolphins that leads visitors from the Marine Mammals gallery upstairs and an escalator to the Outer Bay galleries beyond. THE GREAT TIDE POOL Ringed on 3 sides by the aquarium and on the fourth by artificial rocks that blend with natural granite outcrops, this man-made tide pool is open to the ocean and contains a natural association of the Bay's intertidal life. Colorful sea stars, anemones, crabs and other tide pool creatures live here, as well as a variety of fishes. Sea lions and occasionally gray whales swim past near the kelp beds just offshore, while sea otters and harbor seals visit the Great Tide Pool to feed or rest. DEADLY BEAUTIES This special exhibit shares the secrets of marine animals that use poison for protection or to capture prey. "Deadly Beauties" features more than two dozen of the most poisonous marine species on Earth. There are bottom-dwelling stonefish that can inflict a fatal wound; deadly sea snakes; lionfish whose feathery spines contain a potent poison; cone snails whose venomous sting lies hidden inside a gorgeous shell; upside-down jellies; and many others. "Deadly Beauties" continues through January 1, 1997. LIVE VIDEO BROADCASTS Visitors can also join a voyage to inner space during live video broadcasts from a research submarine deep in Monterey Bay. The award-winning "Live from Monterey Canyon" lets visitors peek over the shoulders of scientists as they study unusual marine life 6,000 feet below the surface. IN SUMMER, the aquarium offers an expanded lineup of family programs and activities, including hands-on Discovery Stations about sharks and coastal birds, tide pool talks, auditorium programs and dress-ups for kids. There are always surprise additions to the tours, so expect something new and different at any time. Large sharks, a 3-story living kelp forest and a walk-through shorebird aviary are among 1,000 permanent exhibits that showcase the many habitats of Monterey Bay. The non-profit aquarium is located on historic Cannery Row, just 120 miles (200 km) south of San Francisco. It is open daily except Christmas from 10am to 6pm and from 9am during holiday periods and summer months (June 15 to September 2). Ticket sales close at 5:30pm. In 1996, The WAVE shuttle service links the aquarium with visitor destinations on the Monterey and Pacific Grove waterfront. The WAVE will run from May 25 through September 2. The shuttle offers unlimited daily rides.

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